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Transplant Cures Rats’ Type 2 Diabetes without Need for Immune Suppression Drug

An approach proven to cure a rat model of type 1 or juvenile-onset diabetes also works in a rat model of type 2 or adult-onset diabetes//, according to a new report from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

"Finding that we can cure type 2 diabetes in the same way is very significant because in humans type 2 diabetes is almost 20 times more prevalent than type 1 diabetes," says senior author Marc R. Hammerman, M.D., the Chromalloy Professor of Renal Diseases in Medicine. "There are about 200 million type 2 diabetics worldwide, and the incidence is rapidly increasing."

The treatment approach transplants precursors of the pancreas from embryonic pigs. In a previous study, Hammerman and co-developer Sharon A. Rogers, research instructor in medicine, showed that they could transplant the cells in a way that lets them grow into insulin producers without triggering attacks by the rats’ immune systems. This cured the rats' diabetes without the risky immune suppression drugs required to prevent rejection in other transplant-based treatments.

Hammerman and Rogers are leaders in the emerging field of organogenesis, which focuses on growing organs from stem cells and other embryonic cell clusters known as organ primordia. Unlike embryonic stem cells, which can become virtually any cell type, primordia are locked into becoming cells of a particular organ.

Their approach for diabetes treatment uses pig pancreatic primordia. In previous research, they found that obtaining the primordia early in the pigs' development rendered them "invisible" to the rats' immune system, eliminating the need for antirejection drugs.

In the new study, they transplanted the pig primordia into a strain of rat with a disorder that closely resembles human type 2 diabetes. The result was the same: the transplants cured the rats’ diabetes without any immune suppression.

Hammerman notes that the new stud
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